The Iran nuclear deal was one of the most controversial legacies of the Obama administration. Democrats praised it as a victory for international diplomacy, while Republicans decried it as a dangerous move that could facilitate a terror sponsor’s eventual creation of nuclear weapons.
Although President Trump vowed to cancel the deal while on the campaign trail, he has thus far left it in place. Adding to the uncertainty, Washington Free Beacon reports that congressional leaders have discovered photographic evidence of Iran using its commercial airline to send militants into Syria. The Obama administration likely knew about this but avoided publicizing it in order gain support for the Iran deal.
Photographs provided to Congress show that between 2016 and 2017–including the dates during which the Iran deal was being negotiated–Iran used its state-owned commercial airline, Iran Air, to ferry militants into Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad.
Assad, who is backed by Russia, has been fighting rebel groups in his country for years. Iran supports the Assad regime in order to gain influence in that country and solidify its growing regional hegemony.
The US works with Syria to combat ISIS but has taken measures to curb excesses and humanitarian violations by Assad. As Washington Examiner reports, that included bombing a Syrian air base back in April.
When it was discovered that Assad approved the use of chemical weapons against civilians, President Trump ordered Navy cruise warships to launch cruise missiles against the airbase from which the chemical weapons were deployed.
But as the photo evidence shows, Iran has been providing Syria with weapons and fighters to continue its controversial campaigns. This violates international laws governing the Obama-approved nuclear deal.
As part of his negotiation, Obama removed sanctions against Iran Air, allowing the airline to make a deal with Boeing, who will build them a fleet of new planes. Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, argued the Obama administration was well-aware of Iran’s violations but swept them under the rug because they were determined to make the nuclear deal a reality.
Rubin said: “The Boeing deal is where corruption meets national security. One of the biggest proponents of the Iran deal was Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador whom the Obama administration brought in to assuage Congress and re-up its talking points in the media. Pickering never acknowledged, however—even to Congress—that at the time he had a lucrative consulting gig with Boeing in order to enable that company to profit off any Iran deal.”
Obama made a deal to sell planes to Iran – the same planes used to send militants into Syria. Should Trump cancel this deal?
Rubin went on to explain that the order Iran Air requested of Boeing is three times greater than what the airline’s flight needs call for. He argues this clearly demonstrates Iran’s intention to use the planes for purposes other than commercial flights. It is highly likely they will use the Boeing fleet to ship arms and soldiers to Syria.
In Rubin’s judgment, the Trump administration should freeze all licenses allowing the Boeing/Iran deal to move ahead. And the Treasury Department has stated it plans to investigate Iran’s violations.
According to Breitbart, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is attempting to sway the Trump administration in favor of the Iran deal. It remains to be seen whether Trump will cede to his adviser or ultimately fulfill his promise to undo the agreement.